Friday, December 08, 2006

In Naming Issues With its Name

I was told that a post describing Lebanon from a Class Perspective was needed over here. I couldn't think of a summary where to start or how to do it. While I was reading Assafir newspaper, I located an interesting article that sheds light on the problem. The author is a Veteran Lebanese who shed light in an interesting perspective. For those who have been following my blog, I am sure they have a clear idea what this article will be talking about. It tackles core problem which haunts the proletariat. I recommend the articles I wrote earlier would give you an idea on the 14th of March (Anti-Syrian, Pro-International Community, Anti-Israeli) and 8th of March and their allies the Free Patriotic Movement (Pro-Syrian, Anti-International Community, Anti-Israeli). The articles Lebanon, Israel, and Class Struggle series (they shed light on the history of political figures chapter 4-5), , and the latest three I wrote last week, titled under: Opposition To Hit the Street , Sectarianism All the Way Baby, and Lebanon: Sectarianism All the Way Episode II as well an article I translated two weeks ago: Lessons of the Two Independances)

The standing problems of the situation started with the demand of Late Harriri's allies of the International Tribunal and disarming Hezbollah. Hezbollah do not want to disarm (nor their massive supporters) till the army is ready to handle the South in face of Israeli aggression. Meanwhile, the Tribunal was voted by the remaining Seniora government (after one was assassinated and 6 ministers withdrew: 5 Shiites and 1 Greek Orthodox). Currently, with jumping above importent sequences from 2005 - present, the Opposition composed of the Shiite parties Hezbollah & AMAL, Christian Parties (dominating party in elections) Free Patriotic Movement & Marada, and two secular parties: SSNP and stalinist Lebanese Communist Party, demand to have the 1/3 plus of cabinet in order to veto the other side's decisions when not in agreement. The Free Patriotic Movement's leader ex-General Michel Aoun was responsible of the Syrian Act (issued by Congress) and UN resolution 1559, currently he seeks presidency. It is one mess situation between two reactionary camps. Anyways this article would shed some light on what is going on by Dr. Fawwaz Traboulsi (PS: His arabic is rather advanced so I hope I did the translation proberly)

It is difficult to be convinced that the gathered crowds, which are full of expressive anger to the extent of violence and led to the killing people, in the squares and streets, are doing so to express a difference on a vote regarding the International Tribunal agreement, or that these crowds are divided about the ministerial partnership whether it should be 1/3 plus and 19/9/2 or 20/10/1.

It is also difficult to be convinced that there is a large gap between these audiences and their leaderships. From a detective manner, we should treat these opposing sectarian slogans on the tip of the iceberg as “codes” to what is broader, deeper, and more expressive regarding the interests and emotions of the overall collective. This would lead us to attempt in explaining the algebraic equations (percentage in Algebra) in relations to Lebanese politics.

Henceforth, we have to start naming the issues with its names, and to distinguish what is said and done.

This is not limited to the polarization of which the nation is currently living as simply “political” polarization in a sense to make it clean from any sectarian polarizations. This is not excused because we assume that Politics in Lebanon became an extension to the relations between the Sectarian groups, rather for a different reason, it is the sectarian imbalance of the components of the two teams. If the Maronite (MFL: Christian Sect) political group distributed almost equally between both camp, there is a decisive majority of political Shiite parties (Hezbollah and AMAL) in the 8th of March team, and vice versa, there has been a decisive majority for political groups composed of Sunni and Durzi in the 14th of March team.

From the other side, this current struggle seems that one team is demanding change while another team is preserving what is currently standing. The team, which is inviting change, has two popular groups who entered recently the swamp of Lebanese politics. Both groups were either marginalized or deactivated during the Syrian mandate. The Free Patriotic Movement was pushed away due to exile and tyranny while Hezbollah was totally immersed to the resistance missions against Israel. This marginalization plays a role on the group components of Hezbollah and the Free Patriotic Movement, specially when both groups represent sections of the rising middle class and the categories of the people in the suburbs. That way, this marginalization gathered among these two as well in relations to the government and public employment, just as the clear belonging to the private sector of the economy pushed them closer.

Both of the allied factions seek, under the slogan of participation, a position in the political combination. This partnership was based on this quest. The Free Patriotic Movement tends to address a deep Christian emotion that is experiencing marginalization (and their logos went as far as calling it Depression) and promises his audience with a strong President. While from their side, Hezbollah is seeking to protect itself from projects of disarmament or marginalization which occurred through political mediations and foreign pressures after the failure to accomplish that via the latest Israeli aggression. No doubt that both, the Free Patriotic Movement and Hezbollah are demanding their rights to be present in the heart of the executive power in order to participate in a status quo which will decide the fate of the Presidential chair and place new electoral law.

If the strong president project is waiting presidential results, then the struggle is towards the balance of power inside of the government which will generate a modification in the balance between the three executive chairs (MFL notes: President, Head of the Parliament, and Prime Minister) which was generated by the Ta’ef accord to which the three sects committed to application. Till the latest elections, there was no problem with the disrupting 1/3 (on the government scale). As for the current crisis, the inspiration behind the one-third which waves behind the potentiality for another framework, in the name of conciliation, is concerned about the participation of the Shiite Islamic group, re-enforced by its allies, in a balanced presence within the government, which is often sited as a location for the Sunni political group.

This source of anger is not the only one in the current crisis, but at least it can be said that it can’t be solved by the logic of the demanding team of participation to return to the house of obedience, like two married couple on the verge of divorce. While the two teams are escalating their tone, demands, and exciting their street supporters, they are both competing to reject a “sectarian armed struggle” and at the same time inviting to take out its flames. This struggle was dormant.

The summary of the issue, which calls for deep worries, is that this sectarian system returned to confirm again that it is a system of “lacking space”. This system will remain lacking space till infinity. Its sects and streams can’t fit in it, and each group seeks to trick the Ta’ef Accord and the Constitution as each claims its commitment to this or that while arrogantly saying that nothing needs reconsidering.

This is the same system confirming that it can’t fit people. It forces people to shove its demands and interests (if admitted to it rights) from the needle of Sects’ rights and its shares?

Then how can the distribution of interests, services, and shares occur in the first place in a situation where there is nothing to distribute but the debts (MFL notes: national debt). Specially that the leaders of the Sects’ expertise are to distribute (and a huge section of the economists are not involved except to raise moral to the extent of prosperity). So who cares about wealth production and distributing it in a fairer manner among the entire Lebanese?

This is no longer a joke. The moment of truth has come (the other does not cancel the need to know truth which is on your mind) (MFL notes: Dr. Traboulsi refers to the demanded Truth by 14th of March in a satire manner). Till now, the Lebanese system solved its crises by changing people’s mentality via killing and displacement or the marginalized groups impose itself through force and foreign relations show-off. Will this occur again?

Should we change the system or the people? This was and still remains the issue. This current issue can be defined in this sense: Drastic Crisis requires drastic solutions. This is the only title worthy to be presented to any dialogue for whoever wants to avoid a disaster (and before comparing between the eve of 1975 and December of 2006).

Whatever be it, the latest updates confirmed the honesty of a popular proverb: “Politics has no God”, even if everyone wants to descend their Gods into the alleys!

Fawwaz Traboulsi

Marxist From Lebanon


troutsky said...

I don't know enough about the situation and do not wish to offend but it seems the obstacle to change (whether people or structure) is a lack of liberty, of an understanding of it's rights and responsibilities. If a citizen is primarily loyal to a religious sect or family clan or ethnic identity he/she can not express will politically. Only identity is expressed.Democracy is hollowed out at this juncture and it is happening in West as well as East.

For democratic institutions to mean anything there must be a plural,civil society where this whole conversation can take place in safety, anti-clan, anti-religious expression must be allowed, even encouraged. Then a worker can speak from his experience of economic exploitation and not that of ancient fueds.The framework of laws must be respected and upheld, education and opportunity available to all.

MarxistFromLebanon said...

That is the problem Troutsky, Democratic institutions in the West took centuries to evolve to its current status. In Lebanon, it is a bit more complicated, that is why I was hesitant to put a post since the issue is much larger.

I mean we have different strong currents with foreign support. Bottom line is sectarianism, which the author of the article discussed and argues that the politicians are refuting to tackle the Sectarian system we live. For example, if a Catholic wants to be recruited by the Public Sector, 5 other sects have to be recruited at the same time, rather going on the merit system (a major glitch we inherited from the French Mandate)

Anonymous said...